Irish motorists happy in the slow
Electric is the future, but why are Irish motorists so slow to grasp it?
A recent survey by the AA found just 1 in 10 motorists were “very likely” to choose an EV when buying their next car. One in five (20%) said they were “somewhat likely” to turn their backs on diesel or petrol.
But while the survey highlights a possible shift in attitudes, the reality is less promising. Just 370 electric cars have been sold this year — that’s out of a total of just under 90,000. Hybrids have fared a little better, with just under 3,000 sold.
Interest in the subject has been so disappointing, the Government has been forced to drastically reduce its planned target for the number of electric cars on the roads by 90%.
The first target of 230,000 set in 2008 was scaled back in 2014 to 50,000.
That figure has again been adjusted downward to 20,000 — which again seems a little ambitious.
AA survey of motorists
The AA survey shows the main concerns — the battery range of EVs, the lack of charge points and initial costs — still exist despite recent advances.
■ 54% said the lack of charge points was the main barrier
■ * for 45%, the range of the battery was the main issue
■ * while for 41%, electric cars were deemed too expensive
The AA’s Commercial Director for Ireland, John Farrell, said there have been significant improvements in the electric and hybrid vehicles, especially in terms of reduced charging times, improved range, and their being more affordable to the average motorist.
However, he said if we are to build confidence among motorists, the Government has to act.
“Electric cars aren’t some passing fad and they will very much be a key part of the future of motoring in Ireland. It’s time for our government to accept this fact and facilitate the installation of a greater number of electric vehicle charging points across the country if we are to avoid being left behind while the rest of the world embraces the future,” Mr Farrell suggested.
A survey conducted in 2016 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted the total cost of EV ownership — the purchase price added to the running costs — would dip below those of conventional diesel and petrol cars by 2022.
One country that has been bucking the electric trend is Norway.
Since the 14th century, Akershus Fortress has protected Oslo from raids by bloodthirsty Swedes. Now a Cold War bomb shelter in its basement is being repurposed to help save the Norwegian capital from more insidious foes: pollution and global warming.
From May, electric car owners have been able to drive down a narrow ramp between rough- hewn rock walls which was dripping with condensation and plug in at one of 86 charging stations — for free.
The facility will get plenty of use as Norwegians switch to electric vehicles faster than anyone else on the planet. More than a third of all new cars are either fully electric or plug-in hybrids.
With about 100,000 electrics on the road, Norway (population 5 million) trails only the US, China, and Japan in absolute numbers.
By 2025, the government has suggested, there may be no gasoline- or dieselpowered cars sold in the country.
“It’s safe to say that Norway is the first mass market for EVs,” says Sture Portvik, the city official overseeing the Akershus garage.
Norway’s electric vehicle boom has been built on generous government incen-